Wānaka Wastebusters is raising awareness about the dark side of fast fashion this month by hosting the Six Items Challenge. Participants choose just six items from their wardrobe to wear for the whole month of March - although this limit does not apply to underwear, accessories, footwear, sportswear, uniforms or one complimentary jacket.
Wasties hopes that the challenge will highlight the “over-consumption, waste and exploitation” of fast fashion, as well as encourage locals to share ideas about how to shop sustainably and ethically.
Globally, 150 billion tonnes of clothing are made every year. According to Wastebusters, much of this is “fast fashion” - made from low-quality materials and worn just a few times before being thrown out. Ninety-five per cent of discarded clothing could have been recycled or upcycled. “This isn’t just a waste of clothes, but a waste of the energy, water and resources used to make and transport them. Toxic chemicals and exploitative labour practices are also harmful to people and the environment,” reads the colourful display outside the store.
Gina Dempster, communications manager for Wastebusters, said it has had a good response to the challenge so far, with over 100 people from all over the country responding to the Facebook event.
Among those participating is Queenstown Lakes District Councillor Niamh Shaw, a self-professed fan of upcycling who announced in a Facebook video that there were “a number of reasons” she was “mad keen” to complete the challenge. “For a long time, I’ve had really big issues with the fashion industry as a whole,” she said. “There’s the huge volumes of waste that it produces, issues around sustainability, and ethical treatment of workers in its supply and manufacturing chain.”
She also added that, as a mother to a six-year-old daughter, she had big concerns about the “unattainable ideals of what looks good for a woman.”
As part of the campaign, Wastebusters will be publishing information on their website, Facebook event and Instagram pages. There is also an informative display outside the store, and those interested can subscribe to a weekly email by emailing email@example.com.